You know that feeling when everyone around you is like sandpaper to your soul? Your spouse is doing a little tap dance on your last nerve, your kid is relentless in his disrespect, and even the dog won’t shut his little doggie mouth, barking about every little thing that moves. The one common denominator in all of those relationships is you. Hate to say it. But it’s true. Being self-aware brings attention back to our selves and our actions. It allows us to take responsibility for our emotional and spiritual well being too.
Cultivating self-awareness requires little but attention and willingness. If we can be willing to pay attention to our thoughts and emotions, we may notice patterns. Maybe you see that you’re complaining or blaming a lot. Perhaps you justify your complaining and blaming. “I’m just trying to keep it from happening again.” Or “I’m just standing in my truth. “ In reality, we are looking for someone to blame or trying to manipulate a person or situation. Without self- awareness, we can stay ignorant. Ignorance is bliss.
Eventually, our inattentive little cuts will damage our relationships. If the only words that the son hears from his dad are critical and blaming, the son will suffer. The son could shrink into himself quietly seething. Ulcers and heart disease are just waiting to take him down. Or he could bow up and get resentful, fighting, drinking, causing real disharmony in the house. If however the father developed some self-awareness and paid attention to the tone, the frequency, and the tenor of his words, he may see that he’s stuck in a pattern that is hurting his kid. He may find that he needs to take care of his own mental and emotional well being.
Self-awareness also helps in our relationship with our selves. Dr. Charles Amen says that we all have ANTs. He says that every time you have a negative thought that your brain releases chemicals that affect how you feel. So it’s important to recognize those thoughts and make a decision to change the negative thoughts to something positive, happy, kind.
“Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) can make it difficult to make decisions; lower your self-esteem; strain relationships; and can lead to depression, anxiety, and even anger.”Dr. Charles Amen
Paul told the Corinthians to “…take every thought captive and make it obedient to God” (2. Cor 10:5b). Even in the first century, people had trouble with negative thinking. Self-awareness allows us the opportunity to recognize those thoughts and choose something else.
Just for today
I will pay attention to my thought and my words. I will recognize when I’m in a pattern, and I will choose to think something different. To do something different. To change negativity into positivity.
God, it’s so hard to change my thinking. I need your help. I believe that you want me to be happy and free of negative thoughts and behaviors that hurt the people I love and me. Please grant me self-awareness. Show me when I’m thinking and behaving negatively and help me to make a different choice.